By Shawn Davison – Pro Athlete, Inc., located on Pomona Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, was voted one of the 2011 best places to work by the Kansas City Business Journal. Pro Athlete is an Internet distributor of sporting equipment, primarily for baseball and softball. It does this through internally owned web sites such as justbats.com and justballgloves.com. By focusing on the customer, it has earned numerous customer-service awards for its sites. Particularly impressive are an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a STELLAService “Elite” rating. It also uses innovations such as the “bat coach” on justbats.com, which helps customers select the ideal bat and contributes to overall customer satisfaction.
Clint Donaldson ’03, Pro Athlete Chief Operating Officer, is a Business Administration (Finance) graduate and was a member of the Cardinal baseball team. As important as external customer service is to the company, Donaldson says Pro Athlete also places great importance on its internal customers, the employees. A culture-driven company, Pro Athlete takes many steps to ensure a desirable employee environment. On-site facilities include a basketball court, cardio room, living room, IT lounge, racquetball court, and swimming pool. While described as a “relaxed but appropriate work environment”, Pro Athlete values strong continued growth from its employees. Working to create a college-type environment, Donaldson says that employees are strongly encouraged to learn on their own, and there are hundreds of books on site to help.
Another key characteristic of Pro Athlete employees is passion. Donaldson says, “At Pro Athlete, whatever job someone has, they are expected to be passionate about it. And effective thinking is cultivated, as well. We are as interested in how an employee comes up with an idea as the idea itself.” Donaldson says that employees who care enough to ask questions are also highly valued.
Having hired several employees with William Jewell ties, Pro Athlete likes what Jewell students offer. Donaldson says the real-world experience he gained as a Jewell business student has been a major asset to him in his career. After revisiting the William Jewell campus recently to meet with business students, he is reminded of the strong educational environment Jewell professors create. “The rigorous curriculum delivered by professors who have worked in their respective fields provides a learning environment that is highly effective in preparing students”, says Donaldson.
Donaldson says that besides education and experience, there are some basic skills that Pro Athlete looks for in a potential employee. In addition to a solid foundation in reading comprehension and effective writing skills, personal presentation along with excellent speaking ability are valued very highly. He also stresses the importance of a good fit for the employee in the company culture. “At Pro Athlete, we place a premium on passion for our customers, our products, our services – and a strong commitment to continual personal and corporate improvement.”